In recent years the 600cc class hasn’t exactly received the most publicity or thrilled the masses every year. But for 2019 Ski-Doo has gone to great lengths to solidify the 600R E-TEC engine as something everyone should be taking a hard look at.
A late release model unveiled at Haydays was the MXZ race sled wrapped around the new 600R E-TEC engine, touting 125 horses – up 5 points from the old 600 E-TEC, yet still a whopping 40 hp less than its big brother the 850cc. The new 600cc square mill employs much of the new technology found inside the 850 such as plasma coated cylinders, short intake tract, electronically controlled three-stage exhaust valves and a W-shaped reed. The new pDrive clutch mounts to the end of a lightweight but beefy crankshaft fitting inside the narrowed REV Gen4 platform. This 600 does not, however, run the booster injectors in the throttle body like the 850 – opting instead to solely use the precision voice coil injectors atop the cylinder head.
For a purebred 2019 model, the Summit 600R E-Tec was a much awaited update among the Snow Goer test crew. The wildly improved dynamic response delivered by the 850cc engine had us drooling over the mere thought of how the 600 could improve our lives in the mountains. Lucky for us, we spent a whole month aboard this Summit 600R equipped with a 154- by 2.5-inch shoe, racking up 400 mountain miles.
Here’s five important takeaways that you’ll want to know about this new machine.
1) “I fear you are underestimating the sneakiness….” – The new 600 is sneaky good. It truly has some serious snort relative to the other 600s on the snow. Sure, it might give up some top-end to the big 850, but we can’t always be wide-open all the time riding in the steeps and the tight trees where the 850 will win the battles. This little buggy is an overachiever, aspiring to conquer the biggest of mountains, and comes darn close on 85 percent of riding days. The dynamic on/off throttle response delivers accurately and precisely at every flip of the throttle lever – something not all sleds can claim.
2) 600 cubic centimeters + REV Gen4 chassis = Perfect Harmony – In 2017 the REV Gen4 Platform revolutionized the Ski-Doo image of mountain machines, and placed them back on top of the mountain leaderboard in 2018. A big part of the win was the 850 engine, but the chassis paired with that powerplant also gave it the edge. The 600 is no different and if anything probably benefits more from the intelligently designed body panels behind the shock towers to provide lift in the deep snow since it doesn’t have all the might to propel itself onto plane like the 850 does. It also sports a solid ski and track pairing, with enough keel courtesy of the DS3 to steer the sled with the PowderMaxx track. Couple the mass centralization of the narrowed engine with the overall pound shedding and reduction in rotating mass and this sled feels like a compliant steed between your knees.
3) The perfect cure for ‘Whiskey Thumb’ – We all know one of those riders who think mountain riding is 100 percent throttle, 100 percent of the time – munching meadow after meadow with nary a tree in sight. Or if a small obstacle does finally come their way, the big wheelie pinned wide-open is a guaranteed result of their “Whiskey Thumb” style – which potentially lands them in trouble stuck in a giant trench, leaned up against a tree or flopped over on their side after blowing the track out from under.
Jump on this 600 and it instantly rectifies the “less suck if you’re stunk” by providing that less snort, which they shouldn’t have in the first place. If a thumb does begin to twitch, we recommend using it to depress the SHOT button to re-fire this majestic machine – this near weightless starting system working up to 1.5 (tested) hours after stopping the engine is just plain cool.
4) Any objections? – It’s not often that we do say this, but the sheer impressiveness warrants it: The Summit 600R E-Tec might be arguably the best-fitting mountain sled built to date by any OEM. It doesn’t fight with the rider, it does what is requested by the pilot, it provides a massive amount of smiles per mile and rewards you with less wear on the palms of your gloves by not requiring a white-knuckle grip all day to hang on. The result is less fatigue, while accessing more places with less effort. There are those wild days with handlebar-deep powder where the 850 roars and thumps its chest to crest over the top of ascents more readily, but rest assured the 600 will still arrive where needed with some creative line choice. Wrap the optional 3-inch track around the tMotion skid and you’ll be quite impressed with climbing and stopping abilities, and in the deep March fluff snow we received this year, the 3-inch track would have come in handy. We did miss the X package running boards, though, as the SP boards permit more snow buildup. On more than one occasion after a short stop, restarting the engine and revving to full throttle within 10 seconds of ignition, the engine would strain to 6500 rpm and not rev any higher even though the throttle was against the bar. Fully letting off the throttle and getting back into the power spooled the engine normally up to 8000 rpm with ease – which the BRP reps assured us would be addressed for production.
5) We like it – The end result is that BRP has gifted us with a machine that is perfect for 85 percent of mountain riders out there. There are those among us blessed to ride above 10,000 feet on a regular basis where the 850 is the better option, but the 600 works wonders below that. Ski-Doo matched this sled to target a high volume of the sledhead market across the globe of rider abilities, terrain type, riding style, and more all into one package.
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